Smokehouse restaurants in Metro Manila have been hot since 2016, with no signs of cooling off any time soon.
The Smoking Joint, Mighty Quinn’s, Holy Smokes, Pitmaster’s Smokehouse BBQ and The Smokeyard continue to draw diners—proof that Filipinos love barbecued meats.
And now, people don’t have to brave the traffic to enjoy smoked food. Fat Boy and Slim Meat Co.—a venture of Gerald Montelibano (the “slim”) and Mikey Presa—prepares cured meats and is ready to accept orders.
The two have their own day jobs. Montelibano is a chef at Grace Park in One Rockwell, while “fat boy” Presa is the chef/owner of Concepto in Poblacion, Makati. They have been friends since working together for an international coffee chain back in 2003. They became business partners early this year after agreeing to supply cured meats to family and friends in the industry.
“We both decided, why not do our own prepared cured meats from home and establish a supply company for these homemade products?” says Montelibano. “We started looking at a bigger scale of distribution, with our preferred taste reflected in the final taste of our meat.”
To prepare, they read tons of books and did hands-on trials. “Lots of backyard barbecue smoking sessions and beer,” quips Montelibano. “Yes, we did have multiple attempts, with our family as tasting audience. They had lots of bacon in their diet at the time, but were all happy to take part in the product development.”
To guarantee consistency and maximum flavor, they sourced their pork from France, curing salts and maple syrup from the United States and sea salt from Italy, while their behemoth smoker was customized by local fabricator Barrel Pro.
“We invested in a few big toys to make our study a bit more interesting and different,” says Montelibano. “We use local and imported meats. This is part of our study, that different meat origins also have different flavors, more so when cured and processed. As for wood, we use different types, like hickory, mesquite, mahogany, apple and santol, depending on the kind of meat we are smoking and how much of the smokey flavor we want the meat to impart.”
After six months of experimentation, the Fat Boy and Slim Meat Co. finally released its initial line last July—smoked maple cured bacon, corned beef, smoked pulled pork and sous vide smoked ribs, all of which are ready to eat.
A handful more are in the final stages of development, including pastrami, ham, smoked sausages, chorizo and smoked beef short ribs. “We put a lot of emphasis on the freshness of ingredients, quality of the meat and our signature mix of local and imported spices,” says Montelibano. “We are hoping that our experience and our constant research will be our edge in this craft!”
As the reign of barbecue in Manila continues, we say to the local purveyors: Thank you for smoking. —CONTRIBUTED